An Open Letter to the UC Community from some friends:
We moved by night, escape was imminent, even if
we had learned all we knew from the pages of The
Count of Monte Cristo. Everything that lay ahead
was as terrifying as what we left behind, yet now,
at least, we had a shred of sky
— Salt Wedge Sogumi.
The past three years of university struggle emerged in their explosive and dynamic way from a need to confront the ordering of our lives in the interests of capital. They broke the edges of this ordering, making the gaps in the order a bit clearer in their sharp edges. In doing so they also took things from capital, notably spaces, making them places for us. Of course, capital tried to shove these pieces back into place while we were standing on them. Our wounds are still healing, and while we were waiting, we started listening to capital whispering in our ears and offering us dreams of a “future,” forgetting that this is part of the very logic of capital itself.
There is no future.
We cannot reverse what has happened, either, as if the imaginary futures will simply be refunded. And even if it could be, wouldn’t it just be a shinier cage? A cage that is brimming with racism, imperialism, murderous policing, sexism, homophobia, gendered exploitation, labor exploitation—and the same empty promise of some minor degree of influence in the form of making known our individual wishes—pretending that we don’t have collective ones. This voting and these reforms are made of the same sturdy materials that the “future” is. They are the cause of the “affluence” of the past and have buoyed up this great meat grinder that is our “renowned” education system.
Now is the time to see these things for what they are. We must now realize that the vampiric and ineffectual presence of liberal, socialist, and academic Marxist “praxis” has failed to concretize into any real oppositional politics with substantive force. These ossified machines have remained mostly idle or merely hummed softly to one another. When they managed to produce anything, it took the form of inconsequential “protests” that imitated some fantasy of popular struggle handed down to us by a self-satisfied and opportunistic liberal bourgeoisie. This absurd fantasy is informed by not only a distortion of itself, but also mangles the concrete history of all political struggles that it sees itself as the heir to. We can blame these ‘intellectuals’ and ‘activists’ for the image of Ghandi as some feeble, long suffering martyr whose extreme passivity united a people to stand around together in large groups, quietly, until the oppressors took heed and promptly conceded.
It is a perverse story full of lies and advice whose only real effect is neutralizing struggle and maintaining the health and safety of bodies, so that they can be destroyed at the hands of bourgeois power and its most visible agents, the overcompensated police. This glorious ensemble of forward thinking progressives, socialists, “Marxists,” and democrats has given us the gift of an opposition obsessed with the choice between violence and non-violence within the space of struggle—as if in the face of militarized repression any effectual struggle had the luxury of such a choice. Their commitment to non-violence is so strong that they can and have attacked physically and discursively all those whose terrible violent actions include the sinister smashing of bank windows, the repurposing of corporate private property for shelter and community, and the most sinister of all, remaining in places they have been told to abandon.
But we aren’t writing to rehearse the details of a story we all know. Instead we write to clarify something about the moment that we are living and dying in.
A few more remarks are necessary, though. The UC struggle exploded out of the refusal to take what we are being given and thank our masters kindly. As a result, it has played a part in the emergence of newly politicized and repoliticized subjects. Internally, it has often been marked by a curious discord that has both motivated and stalled its actions. This torsion is not the effect of a movement divided, but the marker of emergent class consciousness, insofar as there are smaller collectives whose material needs seem and are concretely, although somewhat narrowly, opposed at various subjective moments. The UC struggle is nothing more than the relations between smaller constellations of bodies whose material needs are consonant, but reshaped by the administration, the police, and the state, to highlight their subjective, momentary oppositions. They amplify these moments and craft them into razors that we cut each other with as we smash into one another, not yet aware of how to move adroitly as the amorphous composite of collectives that we are.
In the debris of this learning process, we became besieged by another set of dangers taking the form of Dreamy Acts and Unenforceable and Impotent Taxes on Evil Millionaires whose mansions nobody has seen and who plot like movie villains to steal from “the people of California.” We were told “Let’s go to Sacramento” and “We will make banks pay!” They taught us to awkwardly sing along to their children’s songs, crying “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”
All of this has been a mess. Our energies have been dispersed and are now being siphoned off into calls to congresspeople and polite conversations with administrators. We feebly watch on as our friends are beaten, defamed, banned from public spaces, thrown in jail, and subjected to forced labor. Suddenly, we are trying to run—but we are underwater, having fallen in while trying to stumble together. The socialists and so-called left activists are feeding on those who managed to not fall in, promising that they will come in to help as soon as they are done eating. Meanwhile, we are dying.
This can no longer happen.
As summer wanes and we can still hear the echoes of a zombie march into the sharpened rototiller the Regents called “public comment,” we are calling on you. We know that you are trapped underwater with us.
We are calling on you to help us, because there is more work ahead than ever to destroy the machines that will eviscerate us. We must refuse the suicidal fantasies that allow us to maintain the very thing we once set out to undo. We cannot vote our way out of this. There won’t be a bill that will rectify this. More importantly, there is never going to be an America that looks like the one we grew up in—or even the one that existed five years ago. The prosperity that so many expect to return was based on the infinite accumulation of things bought with credit and backed by a gun. They’re all out of bullets and the people that they were shooting at are taking their stuff back.
The only way for us to come out alive is to learn how to move together. We are going to have to throw rocks this time, since flowers didn’t work. It’s going to be terrifying and hard but we will have each other. We are already so much more graceful than we were three years ago. Another fall is coming. Let’s make it theirs. Don’t listen to the liars and dreamers whose elections and fake histories will blind us and make us dizzy; we will lose our balance and drown.
WE WANT EVERYTHING